How to engage your organization in a new strategic direction when 60% are blue-collar employees across different car workshops?

This was the question forwarded by the CEO of a car workshop with 150 employees. The workshop was embarking on a new strategy focused on customers. To ensure the strategy implementation reached all corners of the organization, the CEO asked Innovisor to deliver insights into three areas:

  1. understand how the real organization is structured and what the sentiment is inside the different units towards the new strategy
  2. locate influencers – known as the #ThreePercentRule – for the acceleration of the strategy implementation
  3. determine how the workforce and more specifically the influencers relate to its strategic direction
What insights were key for the successful implementation of the new strategy?

Three fundamental insights were crucial to act on for the successful implementation of the new strategy:

  1. Employees had a negative attitude towards the new strategy
    50% of all employees were not happy with the new strategy. Managers, on the other hand, were very positive about the strategic direction of the company. Their positivity, however, was not shared throughout the whole company.
  2. Employees were more confident about the future of the company than the managers
    Employees had a positive attitude towards the future of the company. 70% of the employees felt confident about the future of the company. Managers, on the other hand, expressed lower confidence in the future of the company.
  3. The Key Influencers were negative
    The identified key influencers – only 4,5% of the workforce – influenced 85% of the organization, but they shared negative feelings about the strategic direction. This group of key influencers was a mix of both blue- and white-collar workers.

Innovisor knows from its 12+ years of experience in identifying and enabling key influencers, that the interactions of influencers facilitate the transmission of feelings and opinions.

The negativity of the key influencers was an early warning signal for the CEO and needed to be turned around as the influencers have the ability to drive up positivity for the rest of the employees. This way they would gain support for the strategic direction and increase the chance of success.

What actions were taken to engage the employees effectively?

The organization decided to focus on two actions:

  1. To harness the positivity of employees around the future of the company
    The overall findings of the organizational networks were communicated with everybody in the organization. The communications were focused on the positive results as well as on what stayed the same next to what the organization wanted to change.
  1. To increase the positivity of employees towards the new strategic direction
    Firstly, all managers were invited to various sessions focused on the new strategic direction. They all needed to be on board so they could act as role models.

Secondly, the top-down communications were mainly designed to address the question: ‘what is in it for the employees?’. The communications were shared with the 7 key influencers beforehand. They acted as a sounding board of the newly designed communication and as input on the underlying issues with the new strategic direction.

Thirdly, the bottom-up communications were driven by the key influencers – after they had been engaged in shaping the top-down communications. Specifically, the key influencers were engaged in co-creation activities to strengthen their understanding of the new strategic direction and their ability to articulate why and how the organization would proceed with the new strategy. This helped to shape the employees’ feelings and perceptions of the new strategy in a positive direction company-wide.

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